The contest over the resurrection of the body used the scientific authority of Aristotle as ammunition on both sides. Past scholars have read Methodius of Olympus as displaying an anti-Aristotelian bias. In contrast, through close reading of the entire text with attention to characterization and development of argument, I prove that Methodius of Olympus’ dialogue the De Resurrectione utilizes Aristotelian biology as a morally neutral tool. To put this into higher relief, I compare Methodius’ dialogue with the anonymous Dialogue of Adamantius, a text directly dependent upon the Methodius’ De Resurrectione, but which rejects arguments based on scientific reasoning. Reading Methodius’ De Resurrectione with greater attention to the whole and putting it in the context of its nearest parallel text retells the traditional story of early Christian resistance to Aristotle. Methodius of Olympus’ characters, although they view scientific knowledge as subordinate to philosophy, see it as neutral in and of itself.
The book of Sirach plays a larger part within Augustine’s theology than has hitherto been appreciated. This article helps fill this lacuna by examining the role of Sir 34:30 – “What does the bath profit one who is baptized by a dead man?” – in Augustine’s conflict with the Donatists. In addition to showing the significance of this verse within the conflict, I further argue that it allows us to espy the forensic rhetoric that shapes much of Augustine’s anti-Donatist polemic. In particular, I point to techniques of inventio that provide not merely stylistic but also argumentative forms and approaches that Augustine deploys on several fronts.
As part of the deepening diversification of biblical studies, several lines of research are now undermining the print-cultural assumptions on which New Testament studies developed. The first section offers summaries of important inquiries into ancient communications media: the dominant oral communication and the uses of writing; revisionist text-criticism of manuscripts of texts later included in the Hebrew Bible; the oral-written cultivation of their cultural repertoire by Judean scribes; the parallel oral cultivation of Israelite popular tradition; revisionist criticism of Gospel texts; and the learning and oral performance of Gospel texts. These separate but related lines of research are undermining the standard print-cultural assumptions, concepts, and approaches of Jesus studies. The second section explores the implications of these researches that open toward an alternative view of what the sources are, a more comprehensive approach to the historical Jesus appropriate to ancient communications media, and a reconceptualization of Jesus studies.
In his authentic letters, Paul describes a historical, human Jesus, but is strangely silent about the events of Jesus’ life. At the same time, Paul describes the figure of Christ using participatory language, and provides no reason to think that this collective embodiment of Christ does not also apply to Jesus’ historical body. I propose that Paul’s historical Jesus was therefore a corporate figure, embodied by the Jewish, pre-Christian community to which Jesus the Nazarene belonged. I present the literary background for this proposal, and explain how the evidence in Paul for a historical Jesus should be interpreted in a corporate or collective sense. I also provide a typological derivation of the name ‘Jesus’ in Paul.